The Perlan Project aims to fly gliders into the stratosphere by exploiting mountain waves in order to better understand those waves and to explore the edge of what gliders can do. In fact, last September, they broke the world altitude record for gliders. In this episode we chat about the project, the airplane and the flying with engineer Lars Bensch and pilot Jim Payne.
As part of my trip to the US earlier this year I visited NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base. I conducted six interviews over two days, those concerning full scale (“real”) aircraft are in this episode. We start out with Kevin Weinert, with whom we talk about the Adaptive Compliant Trailing Edge project, essentially a flap made of flexible materials to save fuel and reduce noise. Next up is Jim Less, one of NASA’s F-15 and F-18 pilots; we chat about his flying and various research projects where the jets are utilized (you can see this part as a continuation of Episode 73, where we chatted with Dick Ewers). Finally, we talk about flying the MQ-9 and RQ-4 unmanned aerial vehicles with the pilots Scott Howe and Hernan Posada.
In late March 2017 I was participating in the media day of the European Air Refuelling Training Exercise, organized by the European Air Transport Command headquartered in Eindhoven. While the planned flight on the Dutch KDC-10 did not work our for technical reasons, I recorded a follow-up interview with tanker captain Martin and boom operator Louis. We discussed a number of details around air-to-air refuelling in general and the KDC-10 in particular. The episode begins with an overview of aerial
refuelling that I recorded myself.